The US car industry's carefully-crafted effort to present itself in a greener and more environmentally friendly light at this week's Detroit Motor Show was blow apart yesterday as a senior DaimlerChrysler executive referred disparagingly to "quasi-hysterical Europeans" and their "Chicken Little" approach to global warming.
Van Jolissaint, the car maker's chief economist, also criticised the recent Stern report on the economics of climate change, commissioned by the UK Government, saying that it was based on dubious economics and that global warming was a distant risk whose magnitude was uncertain.
Mr Jolissaint was speaking at a private breakfast alongside the chief economists of the other big two US car makers, Ford and General Motors, both of whom have launched new green concept cars in Detroit this week.
According to the BBC News website, most of the audience appeared to nod in agreement with Mr Jolissaint and neither of his counterparts from Ford or GM sought to counter his assertions.
Mr Jolissaint, according to the BBC report, said he had started spending more time at DaimlerChrysler's corporate headquarters in Stuttgart in his new role and had been "shocked by the absurdity of European attitudes towards global warming". In particular, he is reported to have expressed surprise at how much support there appeared to be for the "quasi-hysterical" policies advocated by Stern, saying this smacked of "Chicken Little" politics - a reference to the children's story about a chicken which runs around in circles warning that the sky is about to fall in.
The Stern report argued that the cost of tackling climate change now would be a fraction of the $10 trillion cost of doing nothing.
But Mr Jolissaint is reported to have questioned this analysis, saying it would be better to spend money on other problems and make limited changes to policies to combat global warming.
A DaimlerChrysler spokesman said last night that Mr Jolissaint's comments had been "misinterpreted" and that it has asked the BBC to retract its report because it had provided a misleading impression.Reuse content